Trump's Biggest Lie about Jobs
It’s not really a compliment to Wisconsin that Donald Trump would return to the state to repeat the biggest lie of his presidency.
I know. I know. When the nation’s president is a pathological liar who utters provable falsehoods pretty much every time he opens his mouth, how can any one of his lies be singled out as the biggest?
But it can certainly be argued the single, most effective lie that convinced desperate, white, working-class Americans to vote for a self-absorbed billionaire looking down on them from a gold tower was his promise to return jobs to closed-down factories, reopen abandoned mines and magically bring dying small towns back to life.
So, there was Trump in Kenosha last week swearing once again America’s white working class was about to have untold riches showered down upon them under a fabulous, new Trump era of “Buy American, Hire American.”
The problem is we all know Trump has never believed in that idea nor has he ever done it. It was way back in 2012 when late-night talk show host David Letterman first confronted Trump over having his clothing line manufactured by cheap labor abroad, which continues for Trump products including those marketed by his daughter that the president attacks American stores for not carrying.
When Letterman displayed Trump labels from China and Bangladesh, Trump’s explanation was: “Good. We employ people in Bangladesh. They have to work, too.” All Trump’s talk about requiring U.S. steel to be used in this country doesn’t apply to Trump hotels, which are regularly built with cheaper foreign steel. Business Insider also reports “Buy American” is a totally alien concept inside rooms chock-full of foreign goods—ice buckets from Thailand, headboards from China, slippers from Hong Kong and shower gel from Italy.
Despite Trump’s attacks on immigrants to feed the racial and religious bigotry of some supporters, rest assured Trump hotels employ the same low-wage, immigrant housekeeping staffs as other American hotels. The Washington Post reports that since 2013 Trump properties, including Mar-a-Lago, Trump Vineyards and Trump National Golf Club, have applied to fill more than 500 positions with foreign workers under the H-2A guest-worker visa program. In total, those jobs earned almost $1 million a month in salary.
OK, you can’t believe anything Trump says, and he doesn’t seem to have any idea how to get legislation passed anyway. But Republicans controlling both houses of Congress will overwhelmingly support “Buy American” and “Hire American” legislation, won’t they?
Republicans Don’t Really Support ‘Buy America’
If you believe that—and a lot of frustrated white working class Trump voters foolishly did—you haven’t been paying attention to the Republican Party in recent years.
“Buy American” and “Hire American” legislation is pro-worker legislation. Pro-worker legislation is primarily supported by labor unions and Democrats. Republicans, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with increasing the profits of their wealthy, corporate campaign contributors. One of the best ways for American companies to do that is the same way the Trump organization does, by relying on cheap foreign labor and foreign goods.
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin has fought Republican opposition to “Buy American” legislation for years, including from fellow Wisconsinites Sen. Ron Johnson and House Speaker Paul Ryan. The biggest controversy Trump stirred among Republicans during his Kenosha visit was endorsing Baldwin’s current “Buy American” bill to require the use of U.S. steel and iron in government water projects.
Even worse in the eyes of many Republicans than increasing costs for U.S. companies was endorsing a cause championed by Baldwin, a progressive Democrat up for re-election in 2018. Baldwin is smart enough to know Trump’s words mean next to nothing. “His support is very welcome,” Baldwin said, “but it has to be followed up with action.” That includes pressuring Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans to support “Buy American” legislation.
There’s no evidence in his own business practices or anything he’s done as president that Trump actually supports American workers. The only real piece of legislation he’s supported, the Republican health care bill, would have destroyed coverage for 24 million Americans and increased health care costs for millions of older workers who voted for him.
What politicians in both parties are watching to see is how long Trump can continue kicking the white working class voters who supported him in the teeth before they realize they’re being played for fools. When all those shuttered factories don’t reopen and coal mining doesn’t flourish again like it did in the 19th century, will Trump’s bitter, forgotten, left-behind white voters losing jobs and retraining programs under massive Republican budget cuts realize they’ve been lied to?
Will they turn on Trump? Or will they be perfectly happy with a blowhard president “telling it like is” by lying loudly to them about great jobs that never happen and a dumb, multibillion-dollar wall to save them from rampaging, drug-crazed hordes of Mexican rapists?